Lantana (film)

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Theatrical release poster
Directed byRay Lawrence
Screenplay byAndrew Bovell
Based onSpeaking In Tongues (play)
by Andrew Bovell
Produced byJan Chapman
StarringAnthony LaPaglia
Geoffrey Rush
Barbara Hershey
Kerry Armstrong
Rachael Blake
Vince Colosimo
Russell Dykstra
Daniela Farinacci
Peter Phelps
Leah Purcell
Glenn Robbins
CinematographyMandy Walker
Edited byKarl Sodersten
Music byPaul Kelly
Distributed byPalace Films
Release dates
Running time
121 minutes[1]
Box office$15.7 million[2]

Lantana is a 2001 Australian-German drama film, directed by Ray Lawrence and starring Anthony LaPaglia, Kerry Armstrong, Geoffrey Rush and Barbara Hershey. It is based on the play Speaking In Tongues by Andrew Bovell, which premiered at Sydney's Griffin Theatre Company. The film won seven AACTA Awards including Best Film and Best Adapted Screenplay.

Lantana is set in suburban Sydney and focuses on the complex relationships between the characters in the film. The central event of the film is the disappearance and death of a woman whose body is shown at the start of the film, but whose identity is not revealed until later. The film's name derives from the plant Lantana, an invasive species of shrub prevalent in suburban Sydney, which is attractive on the surface but a tangle of dead wood on the inside. In the film it is a symbol of relationships, marriage in particular. Its tangled branches are a playground and shelter for children but a trap for adults.


A woman's body is shown in lantana bushes in suburban bushland.

Leon, a policeman, and Jane have sex in a motel. They part, and Leon and his wife, Sonja, attend Latin dance classes that the recently separated Jane is also taking. Leon does not enjoy the classes.

He savagely beats a drug dealer during an arrest. He has emotional issues but refuses to confront or admit to them, while Sonja sees a therapist, Valerie, who has published a book on her daughter's recent murder. She and her husband, John, barely speak; he refers to their marriage as surviving on their grief. Valerie feels threatened by another patient, Patrick, who is having an affair (with a married man by the name of Nik), forcing her to confront her marital issues.

Jane purposely encounters Leon outside his station, and they have sex despite his reservations. Nik is upset at the relationship because he is friends with her estranged husband, Pete, who wants to return home. Jane pairs with Sonja in the next salsa class, angering Leon, who ends their arrangement, upsetting Jane. She invites Nik for coffee at Paula's behest, his wife with whom she is friendly, and offers him money as they are struggling. Paula now starts disliking Jane.

Valerie, coming home late, crashes. Stranded, she calls John, unsuccessfully. She hails a vehicle but never makes it home. Leon is the investigating detective and searches her office. Surprised at seeing his wife's file, he takes a recording of their sessions, from which he learns that Sonja would not consider an affair a betrayal, but would if Leon didn't tell her. Leon arrives home late, but Sonja is awake. He asks her about her therapy. They discuss their relationship, and he says he just ended an affair but still loves her. Sonja is upset and feels betrayed. Leon sleeps on the couch. In the morning, Sonja says that he will be lucky if she returns home that night.

Leon goes to John's house as he is the main suspect in his wife's disappearance. Leon starts discussing love, marriage and affairs, but lies to John when asked if he ever had an affair. Leon goes to Jane's house after she calls the police. Jane, late one night, saw Nik arrive home and throw something in the bushes. Later, she finds a woman's shoe there. Leon with colleague Claudia arrive and declare the shoe is Valerie's.

The police arrest Nik and he leaves his children with Jane. Police summon Paula for questioning. Neither Nik nor Paula knows that Jane called the police. Although Paula dislikes Jane, she thanks her for minding their children. The police interrogate Nik, but he refuses to answer questions about Valerie, repeatedly asking for Paula. Afterwards, Nik relaxes and talks with Leon and Paula. Valerie had car trouble and hailed Nik. He agreed to take her home but she panicked when he took a shortcut and jumped out, leaving her shoe. Paula goes to Jane's house for her children, where she tells her that Nik is innocent. Jane asks how she knows, and Paula says he told her. Jane asks if she can spend more time with the kids, but Paula forbids it after seeing how Jane went into her house and tidied it. Leon, Paula, Nik, and John go to where Valerie jumped out of the truck. They find her body, as she had fallen down a ravine. Leon listens to the rest of the therapy tape, where his wife says that she still loved him, and he cries.

Leon returns home and sees his wife outside. Jane salsa dances alone, drinking and smoking, and her husband leaves her. Patrick is pained to see his lover, the man seen in his apartment during Leon's investigation, spending time with his wife and their kids. The movie ends with Sonja and Leon dancing seductively. Leon, who found dancing with his wife difficult, now looks into Sonja's eyes and dances, just as she wanted. Sonja struggles to initially return Leon's gaze but does as the movie ends.



Box office[edit]

Lantana opened on 15 screens in Australia in October 2001. It grossed A$604,004 in its first full week, ranking number 9 for the week.[3] It expanded to 40 screens on 18 October.[4] It opened on 14 December 2001 in North America in 6 theaters. In the US, it grossed $66,701 with an average of $11,116 per theater and ranking number 39 at the box office. Its widest release was 108 theaters and it ended up earning $4,623,189. The film earned $11,124,261 internationally (including $6,125,907 in Australia) for a total of $15,747,450.[5][6]

Critical response[edit]

Lantana received positive reviews from critics and has a score of 90% on Rotten Tomatoes based on 106 reviews with an average rating of 7.38/10. The critical consensus states "Lantana is an intricately plotted character study that quietly shines with authenticity."[7] The film also has a score of 84 out of 100 on Metacritic based on 29 critics.[8]

Writer and critic Roger Ebert compared the film to Short Cuts and Magnolia in terms of how it developed the connections between the lives of strangers.[9] It premiered in the UK on Channel 4 in December 2006. British critic Philip French described the film as a "thoughtful, gripping movie" based around the themes of "trust in its various forms, betrayal, forgiveness and grief".[10]


Award Category Subject Result
AACTA Awards
(2001 AFI Awards)
Best Film Jan Chapman Won
Best Director Ray Lawrence Won
Best Adapted Screenplay Andrew Bovell Won
Harper’s Bazaar AFI Screenwriting Prize Won
Best Actor Anthony LaPaglia Won
Best Actress Kerry Armstrong Won
Best Supporting Actor Vince Colosimo Won
Best Supporting Actress Rachael Blake Won
Daniela Farinacci Nominated
Best Editing Karl Sodersten Nominated
Best Original Music Score Paul Kelly Nominated
Best Sound Syd Butterworth Nominated
Andrew Plain Nominated
Robert Sullivan Nominated
Best Production Design Kim Buddee Nominated
Best Costume Design Margot Wilson Nominated
ARIA Music Award Best Original Soundtrack Album Paul Kelly Won
Australian Cinematographers Society Award of Distinction — Feature Productions Cinema Mandy Walker Won
ASSG Award Best Achievement in Sound for a Feature Film — Location Sound Recording Syd Butterworth Won
AWGIE Award Best Writing in a Feature Film — Adapted Andrew Bovell Won
BIFA Award Best Foreign Independent Film — English Language Jan Chapman Won
Festival du Film Policier de Cognac Critics Award Ray Lawrence Won
Special Jury Prize Won
Durban International Film Festival Best Actor Anthony LaPaglia Won
FCCA Awards Best Film Jan Chapman Won
Best Director Ray Lawrence Nominated
Best Screenplay — Adapted Andrew Bovell Won
Best Actor — Male Anthony LaPaglia Won
Best Actor — Female Kerry Armstrong Won
Best Supporting Actor — Male Vince Colosimo Nominated
Peter Phelps Nominated
Best Supporting Actor — Female Rachael Blake Nominated
Daniela Farinacci Won
Leah Purcell Nominated
Best Cinematography Mandy Walker Nominated
Best Editing Karl Sodersten Nominated
Best Music Score Paul Kelly Nominated
Ft. Lauderdale International Film Festival Jury Award for Best Film Ray Lawrence Won
Jury Award for Best Director Won
Jury Award for Best Script Andrew Bovell Won
Jury Award for Best Ensemble Cast Won
Inside Film Awards Box Office Achievement Won
Best Feature Film Jan Chapman Won
Ray Lawrence Won
Best Direction Won
Best Script Andrew Bovell Won
Best Actor Anthony LaPaglia Won
Best Actress The ensemble female cast Won
Best Cinematography Mandy Walker Nominated
Best Music Paul Kelly Nominated
Best Sound Design Andrew Plain Nominated
Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists Silver Ribbon for Best Foreign Director Ray Lawrence Nominated
London Film Critics' Circle Awards Film of the Year Jan Chapman Nominated
Screenwriter of the Year Andrew Bovell Won
Actress of the Year Kerry Armstrong Nominated
Melbourne International Film Festival Award Most Popular Feature Film Ray Lawrence Won
National Board of Review, USA Special Recognition for Excellence in Filmmaking Won
San Sebastián International Film Festival Golden Seashell Ray Lawrence Nominated

See also[edit]


  1. ^ [bare URL]
  2. ^ "Lantana (2001)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 17 January 2015.
  3. ^ "International box office". Variety. 15 October 2001. p. 15.
  4. ^ Groves, Don (15 October 2001). "'Raider' rules Japan; 'Rouge' rosy in France". Variety. p. 15.
  5. ^ "Lantana - Box Office Mojo".
  6. ^ "Lantana - Box Office Mojo".
  7. ^ "Lantana". Rotten Tomatoes.
  8. ^ "Lantana". Metacritic.
  9. ^ Ebert, Roger (18 January 2002). "Lantana". Chicago Sun-Times.
  10. ^ French, Philip (18 August 2002). "Aye, there's the shrub". The Observer. London. Retrieved 28 December 2010.

External links[edit]